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Forward 'playing great' despite long layoff -- again

1/16/2004

DENVER (AP) -- Peter Forsberg circled behind the net and flipped
a pass through the crease that bounced off Philippe Boucher's skate
and trickled in for a goal.

Just what the rest of the NHL wants to see: Forsberg getting
lucky.

Forsberg scored twice and David Aebischer stopped 29 shots
Thursday night to lead the Colorado Avalanche to their fourth
straight win, 4-1 over the Dallas Stars.

"I think Peter is playing great," Avalanche coach Tony Granato
said. "One thing you know is that he empties the tank, he gives
you every ounce of energy he has in his body night after night."

Forsberg got off to a great start this season with five goals
and 11 assists in nine games before a groin injury sidelined him
for 25 of the next 27 contests, including 23 straight.

But long layoffs don't seem to affect Forsberg. He proved that
in 2001-02, when he missed the regular season and still led the
league in scoring during the playoffs.

This season has been no different.

Since returning on Dec. 27, Forsberg has five goals and 12 assists in 10 games. He extended his point streak to eight games with the ricochet goal in the second period, then stripped Sergei Zubov between the circles and beat Marty Turco stickside for his 10th of the season in the third.

"I've been in this league a long time; I'm getting old so I
don't know if it's the best I've ever played," Forsberg said.
"But it's definitely one of the best points streaks I think I've
had."

Brad Larsen scored his first goal in nearly two years and Dan Hinote added his fourth of the season for the Avalanche, 9-1-2-1 in
their past 13 games.

They had to overcome another slow start to do it.

Dallas missed several good chances early against Colorado on
Saturday and wound up losing 4-2. This one turned out the same way
after the Stars outshot the Avalanche 12-5 in the first period and
didn't score.

Niko Kapanen had the best chance when Blake Sloan sent a pass
through the crease late in the period, but his shot to an open net
hit the side of the goal. Aebischer followed with an emphatic glove
save on Jere Lehtinen, holding his glove in the air to make sure
everyone knew he had it.

"When you give them chances like that, give them opportunities,
they make you pay and that's exactly what we did tonight," Stars
coach Dave Tippett said.

Colorado picked up the pace in the second period, but Marty Turco was ready.

He made a nice adjustment early after a tipped shot by Martin Skoula came in at an awkward angle, but that was just the prelude
to what happened a couple of minutes later.

With Paul Kariya charging at him while Colorado was
short-handed, Turco skated to the edge of the crease and poked the
puck free with his stick. He then spun around on his backside and
dived back to make a glove save on Karlis Skrastins. Even the
replay drew oohs and aahs from the crowd.

But Turco had little chance when Hinote scored the game's first
goal at 10:43 of the second.

Andrei Nikolishin skated in down the left side and sent a
crossing pass to Hinote. Turco slid over to cover the left post,
but Hinote gloved the puck, dropped it to his stick and slid it
under Turco's pads.

Then came Forsberg's goal.

"We've had too many non-lucky bounces this year to keep calling
it luck," said Turco, who faced 22 shots. "We needed to respond a
little bit better. It may be a product of a recurring theme, but
we're at that point that we got to push through no matter what
happens to us."

Zubov scored Dallas' only goal with 5:24 left, but he got help
from the Avalanche.

After Adam Foote lost his stick and glove in the corner, Kariya
tried tossing his over. Foote fumbled the pass and Kariya couldn't
stop Zubov, who knocked his fifth of the season in off the
crossbar.

Larsen squelched any chance of a comeback 3:30 later, beating
Turco stickside for his first goal since March 30, 2002, against
Phoenix.

"Whenever you can get contribution from the third or fourth
line, that's what we're looking for," Hinote said.

Game notes
The game was delayed five minutes in the first period after
a section of glass behind Colorado's goal shattered. ... Stars RW
Rob DiMaio didn't play after sustaining an ankle injury Tuesday
against San Jose. ... No penalties were called until Skoula was
called for obstruction at 16:11 of the second period. ... Dallas C
Mike Modano missed his sixth straight game with a groin injury, but
he could be back Saturday against Calgary. ... Colorado is 5-0-0-1
when Forsberg scores.